Habits are patterns of repetitive actions we do without thinking. Some habits are good like brushing our teeth every day or turning off the lights before we leave a room. Some habits can be bad such as smoking cigarettes or eating unhealthy snacks for convenience. Have you ever tried to break a bad habit? If so, you will quickly find that breaking a bad habit is a lot harder than it sounds. To do this requires planning, focus, commitment and a great deal of patience. This is a challenge for us because we become comfortable and complacent in our daily routines.
An activity that brings us satisfaction or pleasure will turn into a habit if done consistently. This habit will become an automatic response in our daily routine. Bad habits can have long-term health effects and can cause pain, shame or guilt.
Breaking a bad habit is possible if you are willing to commit to change. First, start by asking yourself, “What are my daily habits, both good and bad”, “Which habits have become a burden or pose a health problem”, and “What habits do I really want to change?” Making a list can be helpful. Pick one habit that has become the biggest stressor in your life.
Try to think how this habit began. What events were occurring in your life at that time? Did you get a new job, have a baby, go through a divorce, etc. Once you can identify why you began this habit, try asking yourself “How will life be different if I stopped this habit” and “How will I feel?” Our thoughts around this habit are also important. Understand that this habit has become an unconscious choice learned over a period of time. Positive self-talk can help with feelings of guilt and shame. Recognize and accept that we are all human. We all have bad habits and we all can make the choice to change.
To break a bad habit, you need to remove any temptation that reinforces it. Once you identify the trigger you create a new response. Be optimistic and realistic during this process, change is not easy. Breaking bad habits requires persistence and perseverance. Frustration and discouragement are normal and expected. Don’t beat yourself up if you give into temptation. It is not the end of the world and you didn’t fail. Every day you avoid giving into a bad habit is a step closer to change. Do you have a bad habit you need to break? TCP Marriage and Family Services can help. For more information on the services, please call our office at (210) 516-2607 or visit our website at: www.tcpmfs.org.